The mission of the Pelham Housing Committee (PHC), now in its 3rd year, is to increase the diversity, availability, and affordability of housing options in Pelham, particularly for young families and seniors.
These needs were identified on page one of the 2014 Housing Needs Study, prepared by consultants to Pelham’s Community Preservation Committee (CPC). Shortly afterwards, the PHC was established by the Select Board to address these issues. It is a mission we have worked toward diligently ever since.
In 2016, the PHC received town funding to hire independent, professional land use and planning experts to analyze and develop the Pelham Land Inventory and Assessment (PLIA) © 2017. This study, distributed to all town Boards and the Pelham Library - and linked to our town website - has become a cornerstone of our work. With its vast array of detailed maps, the PLIA shows which (few) parcels of land in Pelham may be considered suitable for development, once you subtract “physical and regulatory constraints” such as wetlands, slope, permanently protected habitats, MA law (Chpt 61) and current zoning. It also provides examples of how other towns have met similar housing challenges and offers recommendations.
The PHC supported, and was heartened by, the passage (at the 2018 Annual Town Meeting) of the new Pelham Town Center by-laws, which we feel will not only protect the character of our town, but also provides additional housing opportunities and services for newcomers and seniors. To this end, our committee is studying the feasibility of other minor zoning changes.
To further our mission, the PHC has received valuable information from Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity, Pelham’s Council on Aging, and PHC’s Realtor member Jim Lumley regarding our town’s past and current real estate market. To broaden our vision, we have discussed Northampton’s Big Enough program, and Goshen’s Senior Housing project, among other initiatives. Two of our members attended a day-long conference on Land Trusts, which many towns use to expedite property acquisitions.
In fall 2018, the PDC will ask Town Meeting to approve a First-Time Homeowners program that will assist eligible homebuyers with down payment and closing cost expenses. This initiative has been endorsed by the Pelham CPC and would be professionally administered by the non-profit Valley Community Development Corporation (VCDC), which has had great success in helping provide affordable, more diverse housing opportunities in our region. We believe the program is a win-win for both newcomers to Pelham and the continued growth and vitality of our town.
The PHC welcomes any and all information and new ideas related to our mission. Our meetings are open to the public, usually held the first Tuesday of the month at 4:30PM in the Pelham Town Library, and always posted on Pelham’s website.